In this panel discussion, Ian Smith, Edith Hall and Frank McGuinness reflect on the role and standing of poetry in the contemporary theatre, taking the themes for their discussion from 20th century revivals of ‘poetic’ theatre, new translations of classical drama and the contemporary theatre. How far has a ‘poetry of the stage’ survived and developed while the writing for the stage of verse drama has declined? Is it possible accurately to ascribe the success of literary theatre from Beckett and Pinter onwards to the survival of a ‘poetic’ theatre, more broadly defined and sympathetically received?
Frank McGuinness is Professor of Creative Writing at University College Dublin. His plays include: Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme (Abbey Theatre, Dublin, 1985; Hampstead Theatre, London, 1986), Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me (Hampstead, West End and Broadway, 1992), Dolly West’s Kitchen (Abbey, 1999; Old Vic, 2000) and There Came a Gypsy Riding (Almeida, London, 2007). His most recent adaptations include Racine’s Phaedra (2006), Ibsen’s The Lady from the Sea and Sophocles’ Oedipus (both 2008) and Euripides’ Helen (premiered at the Globe Theatre in August 2009). He is a member of Aosdána and lives in Dublin.